Juris Doctor Degree
UCLA School of Law has as one of its central purposes the training of attorneys who attain high levels of professional excellence and integrity, and who exercise civic responsibility in myriad ways over long careers.
Students must have received a bachelor’s degree from a university or college of approved standing before beginning work in the school. Students are required to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), although students concurrently applying to or already in a UCLA graduate program may submit their Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score in lieu of an LSAT score.
The school seeks to admit students of outstanding intellectual ability who bring a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to the classroom and the legal profession. Through long experience, the faculty has concluded that the quality of the education of each student is affected in significant ways by the presence of vital diverse viewpoints. Students of all backgrounds choose to come to UCLA School of Law in significant part because of the school’s outstanding achievements in creating a highly diverse educational environment.
In evaluating each applicant the school places substantial weight on traditional measures of academic ability, namely grades and LSAT (or GRE) scores. It also recognizes in its evaluation that other factors and attributes contribute greatly to a person’s ability to succeed as a law student and lawyer. When assessing academic promise and achievement, the applicant’s entire file is considered, including letters of recommendation; whether economic, physical, or other challenges have been overcome; scholarly achievements such as graduate study, awards, or publications; and the rigor of the undergraduate educational program.
In addition, the school considers attributes that may contribute to assembling a diverse class. Special emphasis is placed on socioeconomic disadvantage in the evaluation. Also considered are work experience and career achievement, community or public service, career goals (with particular attention to the likelihood that applicants will represent those in underrepresented communities), significant hardships overcome, evidence of and potential for leadership, language ability, unusual life experiences, and any other factors (except those deemed inadmissible by the Regents or by other applicable law) that indicate the applicant may significantly diversify the student body or make a distinctive contribution to the school or the legal profession.
Residence and Unit Requirements
Candidates for the Juris Doctor degree must pursue resident law school study for six semesters and successfully complete 87 units, at least 65 of which must be earned in regularly scheduled law class sessions. The residence requirements may be satisfied as follows: six semesters in regular session in this school; or two semesters in regular session (or equivalent) in a school that is accredited by the American Bar Association, coupled with four semesters in regular session (or equivalent) in this school.
Every first-year student must take the full schedule of required courses; second- and third-year students are required to take a minimum of 12 units and may not take more than 16 units each semester. The second- and third-year curriculum is elective, except for a required course in professional responsibility and a substantial analytical writing requirement. In addition to the courses in the regular law school curriculum, students may take two courses for credit in other disciplines within UCLA. Graduate students may enroll in upper-division law courses on a limited basis. Law courses are not open to non-UCLA students. Auditing of law courses is not permitted.
Attendance and Grades
The right to take examinations and the privilege of continuing as a student in the school are conditioned on regular classroom attendance. Information on the grading system, which is based on a letter-grade scale of A+ to F; and standards for satisfactory performance and for graduation, may be obtained from the office of the assistant dean for students.
Courses of instruction are offered within the school and supervised educational experiences outside it, in an effort to enable students to think intelligently and to prepare them for careers of practice and public service. To this end, the school employs several instructional techniques in a variety of subject areas.
In the first year of their legal education, students are exposed to intensive study of legal reasoning in a series of fields that have historically dominated legal thought. Students begin with a pioneering week-long orientation program that immerses them in the fundamentals of the law school learning process. From there they embark on a formative first year that promotes optimal learning with an extensive course on legal research and writing, in addition to the traditional courses on common law and other foundational subjects. The year-long course gives students the opportunity to explore the relationship between legal analysis and lawyering tasks such as effective legal writing, oral advocacy, and legal research. It is taught alongside courses that historically have laid the foundation for law of all kinds: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, and property and torts. In addition, an elective on modes of legal inquiry in the second semester serves as a gateway to the upper-division curriculum.
In the second and third years, students have an opportunity to engage in a number of different fields of law and law-related study. All of the courses in the second- and third-year curricula are elective, with the exception of the legal profession and substantial analytical writing requirements.